Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Single Displacement

I hated chemistry. I never understood the different types of chemical reactions, but I do recall one in particular, because it reminds me of me. It is called "single displacement". It's when an element shifts places and all sorts of weird chemical reactions occur. "Weird chemical reactions" is about as technical as I get when it comes to chemistry. Bear with me here. I am single and I have recently been displaced. And all kinds of weird things have been going on. So this category of chemical reaction sounds about right to me.

Everyone has been telling me lately and leaving these comments on my facebook "You look so happy!" I'm glad I had been faking it so well, because in the month of February and most of March, I had never felt so down and out in my entire life. Actually, "faking it" is a bit of a misnomer. The fact is- I have been happy about some things: getting assigned trips to work to London and Glasgow and Miami and all of these great places; a quick vacation to Wales with Dara; a trip to St. Augustine with my Aunt, etc. But I have simply not shared the things on facebook that have been shaking me up. So "faking it" is a little misleading. And for the record, I don't make it a habit to fake anything in my life.

But you guys, oh, you guys are in for a treat! Because I'm about to bare it all to you. Feel free to stop reading if you don't want to hear about all of my sorrows. Here's your way out. Your chance to exit stage left. Your mulligan. Your graceful bow out. Your secret backstage door. Your 86. You get the drift......

Okaaaaaay, you're still here? All riiiiight. If you insist. Here goes.

My life has been spread out in several different worlds. Belongings stored in Raleigh. My mail goes there too. Me in New York. Avoiding going back to New Jersey. Waiting to cross the 59th Street bridge from Queens and banging my head against the steering wheel in a fit of tears, staring at the hazy lights of the city, wishing I had never left in the first place. And the very temporary crash pad in Newark, which never felt like home. I stayed there as few nights as possible and prayed to the heavens above for long layovers just so I could rest my head in a plush hotel bed instead.

Sometimes I still do wonder "what if". What if I hadn't left New York? The city was magical to me. I love the energy of business men and women running off to work, briefcases and black coffee in tow. I love the smell of hot dogs on the streets. I love the sounds. Even when I slept. The sirens were my lullaby. The jackhammers were my prayer. It was completely acceptable to be 35 and single and even a little misguided there. The city opens its arms to single professionals and if you want to eat bacon and drink beer and lick an ice cream cone, all in one gulp at 3 in the morning the city shrugs, winks, and says "By all means, Go ahead! Carry on, you darling child."

And I wonder "what if". What if I hadn't left North Carolina? My summer was extraordinary. A very sweet romance. June nights made for kissing under the stars while he smokes cigars on the patio and while I sip gin and tonics with a twist of lime. September weekend road trips to Savannah and Charleston and coastal cities that shout out an invitation "Let's laugh and kiss and gaze into each other's eyes and get tipsy and silly while sipping cocktails by night. And let's explore every nook & cranny, antique store, hidden cemetery that holds years of secrets, and mom & pop shrimp and grits joint by day. Then let's kiss some more and whisper inside jokes and laugh and kiss again."

And now both of my lovely worlds have given way to something else. Don't get me wrong- I love love love my job, but after taking a paycut to do the new job, I can't live the lifestyle I enjoyed for many years in New York. And as for North Carolina- that whimsical, steamy summer ended with the change of season. And I have already spent far too many days crying over both of these things. New York might happen again later one day, but not for several years when I start getting incremental raises. North Carolina- possible, but that romance has died. He has moved on and met one or two other new women to laugh and kiss and travel with to Spanish-moss-covered coastal southern cities. I realized I wasn't being myself towards the end. I was trying to talk him into being in my life. Trying to convince him to come spend time in New York with me and for us to try all of the restaurants that we had dreamed about all summer and hoping that might reignite the magical spark that we once had. But alas, twisting someone's arm and begging? Well, that is just not like me. I don't try to convince people of things (which is probably why I have never worked in sales.) But I found myself doing it, and I was pushing him away further and further by doing so. So I finally cashed in my chips and called it a loss. That "we can still be friends" garbage never really works. At least not at first. Maybe after some time has passed, but I'm sorry to burst my own bubble, but not right now, Sweetcheeks. (Did I really just address myself as "sweetcheeks"?)

Dara had become exhausted of my phone calls filled with monsoon-sized waves of depression and fits of tears. And sometimes I can even hear her eyes rolling when I call. But she has been generous and I'm grateful. I hit rock bottom one day when I was threatened to have my car impounded for an expired registration. All within the same day that my storage unit had a problem with my credit card number and had plans to saw off my lock and auction my belongings. Pretty much set me over the edge. Since NC requires an inspection before renewing your registration, and since I didn't have a local NY/NJ address, I had to drive that car down there in the middle of the night after getting in from working a 9 hour duty day on the plane. Dara came with me, but poor thing was sick as a dog. I flew her back to New York the next day and I began the arduous quest of driving myself back up. I have been visiting RDU frequently since I started this job (flying there though, not driving) and this was the first visit in which I didn't see my deflated summer romance, so that also added another difficult element. I don't think I've ever cried so much or smoked so many cigarettes in entire my life on that drive back. (Disclaimer: I am not a smoker, so please do not lecture me with the dangers of smoking. I needed something to calm my nerves that day and to get me through an 8.5 hour drive.) I also had a bright !exclamation point! light go on, on my dashboard. I had no idea what it meant. I had to consult my owner's manual. "Tire pressure". Which more accurately meant "Laurie Pressure." No idea how to put air in my tires. And here come those god-forsaken tears again. I really just wanted a handsome love of my life to take care of it for me. Yeah. No dice. I dried my tears and did it myself. (It wasn't really that hard.) So the pressure was taken off of me and displaced into my tires and I was on my merry way again.

Do things ever get more cheerful you ask? Oh, why yes they do. By the end of February I had done plenty of soul searching and creating plans A, B, and C. (What the hell else do you do on long drives?)
Here they are:
A) Stay in the crowded and dirty crashpad in Newark and being miserable, sharing my space with ten other flight attendants, and traveling on my days off to other places, while paying very minimal rent and trying to sleep there as few nights as possible. Also driving into the city whenever I possibly could and walking through my old stomping grounds with tears in my eyes and "woe is me" because I don't live here anymore and all of that other crying and junk that I described above. Great idea.
B) Quit job that I really do love, and move back to Raleigh-Durham. For what? For a relationship that doesn't exist. And for a state that at least matches my vehicle registration. And to be jobless while I go through the grueling process of sending resumes again. Fantastic plan.
C) Transfer to our flight attendant base in Cleveland. Start all over again in a "new" city. Although, northeast Ohio is not entirely "new" per-se. I did grow up there- but haven't lived there since the late 90s. This choice means giving up the international flying opportunities out of Newark. But a cheap cost of living. And I can live alone and get my Kitty back. And be close to my baby nephew. And my 90 year old grandmas. Hmmm.

So I went with Option C. As of March 30, I am no longer based in EWR. Today I found an apartment in Lakewood, a cute suburb that I always had my eye on when I used to live in OH. The apartment building has a pool. It is a fifteen minute drive from the airport. There are coffee shops and cute pubs and cheerful little cafe's within walking distance. Tomorrow I am going to Raleigh to get my belongings out of storage. Wednesday I am driving them up to Lakewood. Thursday I am unpacking. And Friday will be my first trip out of the Cleveland base. I feel at peace with my decision. And excited to live alone again. And to have all of my belongings back. And my Kitty. And to be so close to Lake Erie. And to meet new friends. And reconnect with old friends who stayed in the area.

Will this be forever? I am not sure. I am hoping this is the last time I'll be displaced, at least for quite some time. And I hope to meet the love of my life. And that the two of us move back to New York together. Because, just so you know, there is another type of chemical reaction that I remember from high school chemistry. And is called "Double Displacement."